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The Stein Salon Was The First Museum of Modern Art

2 Nov

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By JAMES R. MELLOW

“I always wanted to be historical,” Gertrude Stein announced shortly before her death, “from almost a baby on, I felt that way about it. . .” And, for the better part of her life, she was. In the beginning, in the early nineteen-hundreds, she shared the honors with her brother Leo. The Stein ménage in Paris (a ménage à trois consisting of Gertrude, Leo, and Gertrude’s lifetime companion Alice B. Toklas) was a Mecca for the modern- minded. The principal attraction was the collection of Cézanne oils and watercolors, the early pictures by Matisse and Picasso, the paintings by Renoir, Manet, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, which she and Leo had had the funds and the foresight to buy. The walls of their atelier were hung to the ceiling with now-famous paintings, the double doors of the dining room were lined with Picasso sketches. In the early decades of the century, hundreds of visitors flocked to the display of vanguard art: many came to scoff, but several went away converted. It was a brilliant scene–and a historic one. For all intents and purposes, Leo and Gertrude Stein had inaugurated, at 27 Rue de Fleurus, the first museum of modern art.

The remains of the pioneer collection–a cache of 38 paintings, drawings and collages by Pablo Picasso and nine works by his colleague, the Cubist painter Juan Gris–are in the process of being sold by the heirs of the Stein estate for a reported $6.5-million. The buyer has not yet been announced, but it is believed that a trustee–or a syndicate of trustees–of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has been actively engaged in the secret negotiations. Although spokesmen for the museum have refused to comment, the names most often mentioned in connection with the sale are William S. Paley, president of the museum; David and Nelson Rockefeller, chairman and member of the board, respectively; and John Hay Whitney, the board’s vice chairman. The disposition of the collection after the sale is not known, but it is expected that the museum will mount an exhibition that will bring together the purchased works and many of the major paintings once owned by the Steins that have since passed into other private and public collections. The exhibition would be fitting–and perhaps final–tribute to a salon that made history. Viewers in the United States would have an opportunity not only to see the once- controversial pictures, but to catch a glimpse of the Stein salon as it existed during its most brilliant period.

On a typical Saturday evening, 60 years ago, one would have found Gertrude Stein at her post in the atelier, garbed in brown corduroy, sitting in a high-backed Renaissance chair, her legs dangling, next to the big cast-iron stove that heated the chilly room. A few feet away, one could hear Leo expounding to a group of visitors, his views on modern art. Among the crowd of Hungarian painters, French intellectuals, English aristocrats and German students, one might pick out the figures of Picasso and his mistress, Fernande Olivier (Picasso looking like an intense young bootblack; Fernande, almond-eyed and attractive). The man with the reddish beard and spectacles, looking like a German professor, would be Matisse. Next to him might be the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and his clinging friend, the painter Marie Laurencin. The tall figure would be that of Georges Braque, whose superior stature among the smaller cubists made him the official hanger- of-pictures in the atelier. In the American contingent, the familiars would be the painters Patrick Henry Bruce and Alfred Maurer, both of them early advocates of the modernist vision and both, at the same time, followers of Matisse. It was Alfred, as Gertrude recalled, who held up lighted matches so visitors could see that the Cézannes were, indeed, finished paintings because they were framed.

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Read also about Salon de Fleurus

Jim SHAW

25 Sep

XXXL Painting brings together new and existing works. In the months leading up to the opening, the artists have been busy at work in the building, creating the exhibition on site. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen wishes to demonstrate the resilience and energy of the art of painting with a true ‘battle of the Titans’ between the three artists.MUSEUM

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BOIJMANS VAN BEUNINGEN (Rotterdam) 8 June – 29 September 2013

Second House

27 May

richard prince house

SECOND HOUSE is perfectly camouflaged in its surroundings—at first glance, it appears to be an utterly ordinary single story ranch house. Yet when approaching it from the long hillside driveway, the overgrown grass strategically obscures the identity of who or what lies within. Like so many other domestic buildings in the area, SECOND HOUSE looks kind of decrepit or unfinished (passersby must wonder: did the owner run out of money and abandon construction?). Its façade is missing—only a thin, silvery skin made of insulation panels covers the exterior. An abandoned 1973 Dodge Barracuda is parked out back, quietly rusting in the tall grass; an inside-out tire planter adorns the completely unlandscaped front yard. The inside seems as unfinished as the outside. The walls and ceilings are partially painted, leaving the spackled drywall joints visible in many spots. Plywood sheets cover the floors. Exposed fluorescent tubes provide an even, cold light in the five rooms of the house. While the rawness of the interior décor suggests an uninhabited space, SECOND HOUSE is far from empty. The objects and images sheltered within its walls mirror the landscape outside: it’s pure Americana (that has been “stolen,” cropped, and edited by Richard Prince).

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More links:

Richard Prince’s page

Parket 72 – 2005

Guggenheim Museum to acquire RICHARD PRINCE’S SECOND HOUSE, 2005

Lightning Devastates Guggenheim-Acquired “Second House” by Richard Prince

27 Gnosis

19 Mar

Michael Portnoy-27-gnosis-2

27 Gnosis by Michael Portnoy is inspired by the quest for a philosophical or taxonomic language which gained steam in the 17th Century at the hands of Leibniz, Dalgarno, Wilkins and others. The idea was to develop a language based on the reduction of all knowledge into an “alphabet of human thought”, comprised of irreducible semantic primitives or radicals, in some cases represented by symbols or characters, the combination of which would produce any possible idea. A feature of these languages distinct from any natural language is that within each word is revealed that word’s place within the entire taxonomy of genera, difference and species (ex: frenzi, a table game, is a type of game (renzil), which is a type of rest (renzi), which is the opposite of motion (enzi), which is a type of action, etc. etc.) The game borrows structurally from these languages’ ontologies as well as elements of contemporary conlangs (invented languages) such as aUI, Ro, Ilaksh and Ygede.

Performed at The Kitchen in March 2013

Video – 27 Gnosis by Michael Portnoy

Frieze blog

Mike Kelley

3 Jan

5-MIKE KELLEY

Born in a Detroit suburb to a maintenance worker and a Ford Motor Company cook, Kelley suffered all his life from agoraphobia, yet he made his first works on the stage. While an undergrad at the University of Michigan in 1973, he played drums with the influential noise-rock group Destroy All Monsters, which he cofounded with the artist-musician Jim Shaw, among others. At the California ­Institute of the Arts in the seventies, where his teachers included Baldessari and Laurie Anderson, Kelley became an incandescent performance artist who “drove himself into these frenzied states,” recalls the video artist Tony Oursler, Kelley’s then roommate. “He would babble faster than anyone could think.” Riffing off absurdist scripts, he could charge a room with the simplest of props: “transforming himself,” recalls Oursler, “with only a bucket full of water with a whoopee cushion inside it or a cardboard tube stuffed with tin foil and a microphone.”

Fellow Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy, who became equally transfixed by ­Kelley’s stage presence during a performance festival in the early eighties, soon struck up a collaboration with him on a series of psychobiographic videos. Their first was Family Tyranny (1987), about an abusive father-son relationship. “We knew we had similar interests in family, architecture, low-culture objects, and this thing of costumes and pretend,” says McCarthy, who along with Kelley was a breakout star of MOCA’s seminal 1992 survey “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s.”

McCarthy remembers how his hours-long conversations with Kelley would often lead to unlikely projects. “It was a lot of laughing, making jokes, and then all of a sudden we’d see something and go, ‘That’s an idea. We should do it.’ Then it’s like, ‘Should we really do it?’ And then we’re remaking Vito Acconci performances [with models portraying porn stars] in a house in Beverly Hills like it’s a commune, like a joke.”

Kelley was in the midst of a new project when he killed himself at age 57, leaving no note…

Mike Kelley, Kandors, Kandor 13

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Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

3 Jan

Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962), a New England socialite and heiress, dedicated her life to the advancement of forensic medicine and scientific crime detection. The seeds of her interest began when her brother’s college classmate, George Burgess Magrath (1870–1938), vacationed with the Glessner family at their summer home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Magrath, then a medical student, went on to teach legal medicine at Harvard and to become the chief medical examiner of Suffolk County (Boston). In 1931 Mrs. Lee helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, the only such program then in existence in North America. From that time on, she became a tireless advocate for forensic science. In 1934 she presented the department with a collection of books and manuscripts, which became the Magrath Library of Legal Medicine, and in 1936 endowed the department with a gift of $250,000 (adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of $3,367,000 in 2005 dollars).

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Mrs. Frances Glessner Lee at work on the Nutshell Collection, 1940s-1950s, 
Glessner House Museum, Chicago, Illinois
In 1943, Mrs. Lee was appointed captain in the New Hampshire State Police, the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. Around the same time, she began work on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death—a series of eighteen miniature crime-scene dioramas for student analysis. The Nutshells allowed Mrs. Lee to combine her lifelong love of dolls, dollhouses, and models with her passion for forensic medicine. She originally presented them to the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine; later they came into the possession of the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Erle Stanley Gardner, the writer best known for creating the Perry Mason mysteries, and Mrs. Lee’s close friend, wrote that “A person studying these models can learn more about circumstantial evidence in an hour than he could learn in months of abstract study.”

Hospital For Broken Things

26 Oct

‘Located in Brooklin, New York.  The Hospital For Broken Things is a fictional shop created by American writer Paul Auster. Dedicated to the restoreation of obsolete devises fro, times past, such as typewriters, record players, radios and rotary telephones. The shop is owned and operated by Bing Nathan. A character in Auster’s 2010 novel Sunset Park.’

Inspired by Lewis & Taggart